Where do I find awakening?
In a story about it being somewhere else – in the past, future, or over there?
Or here and now?
WHERE DO I FIND THE PAST AND FUTURE?
Where do I find the past or future in my own experience?
When I look, I see that I cannot find the past and future outside of my stories. The only place I can find the past and future is in my own ideas, in my own mental images and words.
And that goes for stories about awakening as well. Any story about awakening in the past or future or any permanent awakening are stories and I cannot find it outside of my stories and imagination.
That’s not to say that they can’t be useful.
MAKING USE OF THE STORIES OF AWAKENING IN THE PAST OR FUTURE OR AS PERMANENT
Memories of past awakening are reminders that it’s possible and pointers for noticing here and now.
Stories about future awakening is a reminder to find it here and now.
And any stories about “permanent” awakening is a reminder to find it here and now, and also look at what in me wish to believe there is such a thing. Where does it come from? Is it a way for me to imagine I can find safety? Security? Something stable and desirable that will always be here? Does it point to fear about change and fear about certain experiences? And that I am not comfortable with that fear?
Perhaps it’s easier to find peace with this fear? To inquire into these stressful beliefs?
STORIES OF AWAKENING OVER THERE
We can also have stories about awakening over there.
Awakening is in that person over there.
That too is a story about awakening, and about awakening being some other place.
And this too is a reminder to find it here and now.
HOW CAN WE FIND IT HERE AND NOW?
An understandable response to this is:
It’s not that easy. I don’t know what it is or how to find it.
And yet, it can be quite simple.
What’s in the way is usually two things:
(1) Our ideas about it being unachievable for us. We may have bought into ideas telling us it requires preparation, preliminary practice, lifetimes of practice, that it’s only for special people, that it’s something terribly esoteric and mysterious, that it’s something already unfamiliar to us, and so on.
(2) And we may not have the tools and guidance.
The first is only an obstacle if we believe those thoughts to the extent that we give up looking for and using pointers that can help us find it here and now.
The second is only an obstacle until we actually find it, and these days – with the internet – it’s easier than ever to find these pointers. The two I am most familiar with are the Headless experiments and the Big Mind process. If we engage in them sincerely and with the guidance of someone familiar with the terrain and how to guide others, both tend to be effective in showing us what we are in a relatively short time. And by a short time, I mean minutes.
TRUSTING WHAT WE FIND
Finding what we are is not necessarily so difficult. We need an open enough mind to try it, we need the right pointers and guidance, and we need some sincerity in the exploration.
In many cases, it’s more a matter of trusting it.
Again, this comes down to the ideas we may have about awakening from culture and some teachers and spiritual traditions.
If we think awakening inherently comes with bells & whistles and amazing experiences, then we’ll probably be disappointed if we notice what we are without all of these unnecessary side effects. It may seem too simple.
If we think awakening is something special, mysterious, and unfamiliar, then noticing what we are may seem too familiar and ordinary.
In reality, it doesn’t need to come with bells & whistles. It can be simple and apparently unremarkable. It’s not a problem. (And it helps us avoid the sidetrack of the mind becoming fascinated with the bells & whistles and pursuing them.)
And it’s not something that was somewhere else. It was always here, and we were always familiar with it. We just didn’t notice.
How can we come to trust that what we notice is the real thing? And the transformative power in it?
The initial trust may be a trust in the source – in the pointers, where they come from, the guide, and perhaps the community of people having used it and found what they are.
If we continue to explore it, the trust may come from noticing that what we find ourselves to be – even if it seems unremarkable and already familiar – fits the essence of the description of awakening from many different spiritual traditions and teachers. (At least if we remove the stories about bells & whistles, special powers, and so on.)
Most importantly, the trust may come from noticing what we are, explore living from it, and notice the effects.
Awakening means noticing what I am in immediacy.
I cannot find awakening in my stories about awakening in the past or future or over there, but I can use those stories as a reminder to find what I am here and now.
If I have any stories about “permanent” awakening, then that’s a reminder to find what I am here and now, and also to find what in me wants that story about permanent awakening to be true.
It’s not necessarily difficult to notice what I am. The main obstacles are often (a) assuming it’s difficult and involved, and (b) not knowing the pointers and having a guide.
When I notice what I am, it can seem too ordinary, simple, and familiar. That comes from misconceptions about awakening. I can learn to trust it, and the transformative power of that noticing, through continued noticing and exploring how it is to live from it.